British actress Zoe Wanamaker has voiced her support for Martin Freeman's turn as Richard III, applauding him for attracting new audiences to theatre.

The Sherlock star's appearance in the Shakespeare play at London's Trafalgar Studios theatre has been met with mixed reviews, with one critic branding his performance "disappointingly underpowered" and others criticising the staging of the production.

There have also been complaints that some fans of Freeman's Tv roles have behaved badly at the shows, interrupting the performance with inappropriate cheering, and actress Maureen Lipman complained, "The producers are aiming for people who spend most of their day with wire in their ears. It is not so much Richard Iii as Richard the rock concert."

However, Wanamaker insists Freeman should be praised for filling theatres with audiences who would not normally visit stage shows.

She tells Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper, "If Martin is getting people who would normally watch television or go to the cinema into a theatre for the first time - especially when it's Shakespeare - then that's great. It's essential that as many different people should cram into our theatres as possible and see the beauty of what is put on."